A high court in Ireland has ruled an alleged former administrator of a Dark Web drugs website, dubbed Silk Road, should be extradited to the United States to face charges that could land him life in a federal prison.
Gary Davis, 27, of County Wicklow, reportedly played a key role in the operation of the infamous underground website that peddled drugs and pharmaceuticals to customers around the work in exchange for bitcoin. He faces charges of conspiracy to distribute drugs, computer hacking and money laundering.
Now, he is wanted by US authorities, which claim that between June 2013 and October 2013, he used the pseudonym 'Libertas' and held "explicit knowledge" of the items for sale on the website alongside others, including its incarcerated founder Ross Ulbricht.
The Silk Road indictment, disclosed back in 2013, named Davis as being in a paid position within the website and claimed he monitored "user activity" for problems and also was involved with "responding to customer service inquiries and resolving disputes between buyers and vendors."
In the high court hearing, Davis' legal team attempted to raise concerns about the treatment he would likely face if transferred to the US and argued his mental health could be impacted as he suffers from Asperger's Syndrome and depression.
However, in a detailed 89-page court filing, Justice Paul McDermott said Davis should be handed over to the US and rejected Davis' opposition request. He said: "I am not satisfied there any real risk that the respondent would be considered for imprisonment in a similar maximum security facility."
The ruling continued: "The court is satisfied that the United States authorities will act to protect his mental and physical health and take the appropriate steps to address any symptoms of depression of continuing anxiety by appropriate treatment and take such steps as are appropriate and necessary to accommodate him safely as a person with Asperger's Syndrome within the prison system."
According to the Irish Times, Davis is expected to appeal the court's decision.
When it was operational, the Silk Road was a lucrative online business – albeit highly illegal. At its peak, the website was earning millions in illicit sales revenue. When the website was shut down, the FBI seized 26,000 Bitcoins – the equivalent of about $3.6m (€3.2m, £2.7m) at the time.
Since then, Silk Road has spawned both direct successors and weak imitators. Nevertheless, recent research indicates that Dark Web-based drugs sales have tripled since the closure of the first iteration of the site. As previously reported, the most popular drugs purchased online include cannabis (37% of sales), stimulants like cocaine (29%) and strains of ecstasy (19%).